The Armando Iannucci Shows Review

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Iannucci's conceptual Show from 2001

★★★★★

If you’re wondering why you might have missed this short-lived 2001 conceptual sketch show from one of modern British comedy’s most influential figureheads, well, Iannucci notes it himself in his commentary: the week it came out, 9/11 happened. After that, comedy as bleak and bitter as this wasn’t exactly in vogue. Truth be told, you missed a lesser effort, even if this does display flashes of the wit behind The Day Today and The Thick Of It.

There are passages of surreal delight — a Busby Berkeley-style musical number with corpses beggars belief — but also sketches so arch they forget to be funny, linked by the vaguely charisma-free Iannucci as he rails against the blandishments of life and the inadequacies of people (mostly himself). It’s smart and savvy, but ultimately we prefer Iannucci behind the camera.